Four of us sat cross-legged in a small circle on the floor of an underground rave in Midtown, Manhattan, eyes shut, holding hands. It was the Wednesday
before Thanksgiving. We were under 21 and on too many psychedelics. Today I’m sober and have been for years. But back in ’98, I hadn’t scratched the
surface of the complications that drugs would eventually bring into my life. It was before two overdoses and a failing liver. It was before routine blackouts
that led to waking up in emergency rooms, jail cells and psych wards. Back then, the joy still ran equal to the pain.
It was one of those scenes you might see on a TV show like “Friday Night Lights” where the characters have a moment that seems too cosmic to be real. The sentence fell out of my best friend’s mouth like a line of poetry: “What’re we going to do?” We all opened our eyes as if in unison. Everything seemslike it’s in unison when you’re on ecstasy.
The question hung in the air: “What’re we going to do?” I suppose she could’ve just meant, “The party is closing up in an hour, are we going to go walk
around Times Square? Or go to the park?” But it seemed like something more.
I had no idea what I was going to do. I’d been in New York City just more than a year and had started to realize I did not want to dedicate my life to making
films. I’d spent my entire childhood thinking I would be a filmmaker and my parents nearly went bankrupt trying to send me to film school, but now I wasn’t
sure. Sitting in that circle of friends on the floor of the club, I just felt like a confused kid. And I knew they were confused, too. My friends and I gripped our
hands tighter together and in response to her question and to this confusion, we cried. And the universe began to cradle us in its arms. It was like all of
space and time had pressed and pulled and blossomed into that moment.
A similar feeling of confusion, beauty and universal awe struck again years later while sitting next to a fire in northern Washington the moment I decided to get sober. Coming back to life after yet another overdose, I stared out into the Blue Mountains and knew I was done, and I surrendered again into the arms of the unknown. Read more…